A little heart can go a long way in the gritty eastside industrial district. Developer Brad Malsin was passed over during last year's Burnside Bridgehead revitalization scuffle, but he's quietly carrying on his dream of a sustainable, artist-friendly Southeast Water Avenue. His beef with the Portland Development Commission won him the support of a small army of eastside business owners and other pilgrims—clark-lewis, the Portland Farmers Market offices and YOLO Colorhouse paints among them—who set up shop in his updated Eastbank and Water Avenue commerce centers. It was Dan Stoops' respect for Malsin's vision, and his own love for the industrial district, that inspired him and his wife, Jocelyn Barda, to open Bakery Bar on the ground floor of the Water Avenue Commerce Center.
With a case full of exquisite-looking housemade cakes and pastries, a lunch menu that's both faster and cheaper than clarklewis across the street, and Stumptown coffee on offer, Bakery Bar is something of an oasis for the designers, consultants and other folk who occupy Malsin's industrial-chic buildings. The baked goodies are courtesy of Barda, a graduate of Western Culinary Institute's pastry program. New in November, the space still has that just-open sparkle, with neat rows of matching glassware stacked behind the counter and an alarmingly tidy open kitchen. Its muted wall colors, cement floors and high, exposed-beam ceilings mirror the neighborhood's emerging aesthetic. Uncharacteristically helpful counter people, rotating art exhibits and—duh—the lovingly-fashioned pastries, from five-spice carrot cake cupcakes ($2.25) to a scone with fennel and golden raisins ($2.25), draw regulars, few of whom can resist Barda's pecan sandies (50 cents a piece). The food is well above standard coffeehouse fare, including fresh deli sandwiches and soups with fun, housemade cheese crackers (all under $6.25).
1028 SE Water Ave., 546-8110. 7:30 am-6 pm Monday-Friday, 8 am-6 pm Saturday, closed Sunday. $ Inexpensive.